Alltreatment Editor Chance Campbell and Lauren King
September 27th, 2012
The following is an interview between Alltreatment Editor Chance Campbell and Lauren King, a survivor of methamphetamine addiction and co-author of Addicted Like Me. Alltreatment Editor Chance Campbell and Lauren King are doing a interview.
Alltreatment Editor Chance Campbell
CC: Thanks for interviewing with us!
LK: Thank you Chance! I am honored to be given this opportunity to share my story and experience.
CC: As a teen you sought recreational drugs to self-medicate for the pain in your life. How did drug use/experimentation begin? How did it progress?
LK: That’s a great question. Like you mentioned I experienced a great deal of pain during my childhood, much of which was due to my father’s extreme alcoholism. The fear of alcohol is what lead to a promise I made to myself that I would never end up like my father. As a teenager there were many times that I was offered marijuana and alcohol by my friends and after many times of turning down the offers my curiosity got the best of me. The first substance that I tried was marijuana and it was the first time that I felt that pain inside of me melt away. I thought to myself, well if this is what marijuana does for me, then what would alcohol do for me? Drugs and alcohol became more important than the promise I had made to myself. My thinking about drugs and alcohol changed pretty quickly that day. Not only did it dissolve the emotional pain but I also had a ton of fun while using drugs and alcohol. It became an endless cycle. After a while it took more and more drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and put me in that state of euphoria that I wanted to reside in.
CC: What do you wish you’d been told back when you first started experimenting with drugs? Could the right influence at the right moment have halted your fall into the pit of addiction?
LK: Like I stated previously, I had a ton of fun when I first started using drugs and alcohol. I think most people who have been there can relate to this. The one thing I wished I would have known is that one day the fun disappears and the drugs turn on you. That is where I found myself at the age of seventeen and unfortunately by that time I was so addicted that I did not know how to stop. No one ever told me that I may be more susceptible to an addiction because it runs in my family. I feel that I awakened a sleeping beast inside of me the day I chose to get high for the first time. The more I fed the beast, the bigger the beast grew until the beast almost consumed all of who I was.
CC: While Addicted Like Me tells the story of both yours and your mother’s addictions, your mother became sober well before you became an abuser. Did her history of drug use lead you toward the same end?
LK: Well I think one of the biggest mistakes that my family made was trying to ignore how addiction had affected our family. My mother thought that by divorcing my father that she was getting away from the addiction. Once she was on her own she realized that she had her own demons with addiction to deal with. My mother never got truly sober after she left my father, she just found better ways to control it like only using on the weekends or taking an extra pain pill when she got her hands on them. When I became a teenager and began to show signs of drug and alcohol abuse, my mother had no idea how to handle it. Through trial and error and a very long journey we finally found a treatment center that focused on addictions in teenagers. This is where our family began to get help. My mother also accepted help and gave up all drugs and alcohol one month after I got sober. She now has 15 years clean and sober and is one of the best Interventionists in the country working with InterventionASAP. I hope that one day I can be as successful as she is.
CC: You started with alcohol and marijuana before moving on to harder drugs, including crystal meth. Would you describe alcohol and marijuana as gateway drugs for you, or would you have progressed to more dangerous substances without them?
LK: Oh no, I would definitely describe alcohol and marijuana as gateway drugs for me. I would never have touched crystal meth without the previous knowledge of how alcohol and marijuana made me feel. The thing that I came to realize now is how insidious and deceptive this disease can be. It started with one promise to myself, that I would never drink like my father. Once I began drinking alcohol and using marijuana the promise changed to, I will never take it past alcohol and marijuana. But one by one, those promises that I kept making to myself were not stronger than my growing addiction. Eventually I came to the place that I did not discriminate against any drug. If it came my way I was willing to try it. This thinking was what led me to my addiction to crystal meth at the age of seventeen.
CC: You express some fear that addiction is a family legacy; that your children may inevitably grow up into a struggle with substance abuse.
LK: Yes, I have major fear that my children will grow up to struggle with addiction just like many in my family have. This is the part that makes me so angry at addiction. I wish I could scream at it to stay away from my children. This motherly instinct wants to protect them so much but I know that it will ultimately be their decision someday. All I can do is prepare them by letting them know what I experienced and how experimentation can go completely wrong when addiction runs in the family. I can educate them about drugs and alcohol and provide a comfortable environment to keep the lines of communication open. As I look back on my childhood I recall that no one ever talked about my father’s alcoholism or about drugs and alcohol and the devastating effects that they can have on someone’s life. We also never talked about our feelings. Today I choose to live differently. I want my children to know that they can talk about their problems and feeling and that they don’t have to stuff them or numb them. As of today, my children are 8 and 6 years old. I know I have a long road ahead of me and a lot to learn about raising healthy happy children. The one thing that I am proudest to give them is a loving sober home.
CC: Now you’re pursuing a degree in chemical dependency. What are your plans for the future?
LK: Yes, I am currently working towards my Bachelors of Science in Counseling with an Emphasis in Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse degree at Grand Canyon University. I am really enjoying the learning process and I feel like I am finally fulfilling a promise to myself. I am not sure where I will end up working once I finish my degree but I really feel a passion to work with teenagers and young people. I think it is because I started using when I was a teenager, became addicted as a teenager, but also got sober as a teenager. Most importantly I have been given my life back and I want to help others get their lives back too. There is a saying I always try to remember which says; there are statistics on how long someone can live without air, food and water, however there are no statistics on how long someone can live without hope. I am proof that a family legacy of addiction can be broken and I want other families to know that they can do the same. Alltreatment Editor Chance Campbell and Lauren King.
CC: Thank you for sharing your story with us.
LK: Thank you Alltreatment Editor Chance Campbell for giving me the opportunity to share my story. And as I share this story I once again become reminded that I am on the path to my true purpose. Alltreatment Editor Chance Campbell and Lauren King.